Overview

Virtual currency has evolved far past its humble beginnings as an in-game currency. The more than 47 million adult virtual currency users purchased $4.65 billion worth of virtual currency in 2012, and spend on virtual currencies is expected to more than double in 2013. Virtual currencies are driving payments innovation and investment, but as they gain ascendency they are also facing increased scrutiny from government regulatory, policy, and tax authorities. This report assesses the transition of virtual currencies from the digital world to the physical, specifically focusing on the shift from simple, closed-loop virtual currencies to bidirectional virtual currencies used for real-world fiat exchange. This report will further discuss the dramatic market changes that have altered global virtual currency initiatives and will provide in-depth analysis of the unique characteristics of virtual currency users. The report also provides a sizing and forecast for the 2011–2013 U.S. virtual currency market.

Primary Questions:

  • What recent events are changing the virtual currency market?
  • What new regulations might affect virtual currencies?
  • How prevalent are virtual currencies?
  • Who uses virtual currencies and for what purpose are they used?
  • Will virtual currencies become a mainstream payment option in the near future?

 

Companies Mentioned

Activision Blizzard

InComm/Zeevex

Amazon

Litecoin

American Express

Mt.Gox

Bank of America

OpenCoin

Bitcoin

PayPal

Discover

Ripple

European Central Bank

Second Life

Expensify

Zynga

Facebook

Visa/PlaySpan

Hub Culture

 

Methodology
  • The consumer data in this report is based on information from a Javelin survey of a random‐sample panel of 3,217 respondents collected online during October 2012.